In 2016, Zack’s wish to go to Denmark with his family was granted. He chose this wish because his family recently had an exchange student from Denmark live with them and they became very close. This trip gave them a chance to see each other again and spend quality family time together.
Six years later, Zack was performing in the musical Cinderella at Stagecrafters in Royal Oak. For each musical, Stagecrafters supports a different charity and Zack recommended The Rainbow Connection (TRC). Volunteers sold merchandise, took donations and answered questions about TRC at each performance. A portion of the proceeds from merchandise sales were donated to support our mission of granting wishes to Michigan children with life threatening medical conditions. One night, after the final curtain call, Zack gave a speech about what his wish meant to him.
Thanks to Zack, Stagecrafters and the generous people attending their shows, TRC received a donation of over $2,500! The significance of this donation goes beyond the dollar amount. A core value of The Rainbow Connection is staying connected to wish children before, during and after their wish. TRC hosts an annual Picnic and Holiday Party for wish families. The Special Response program offers financial support to families in need and the Scholarship Program provides $1,000 scholarships to wish children pursuing secondary education. When Zack recommended TRC for a donation, it was reminder of the importance of staying connected with our wish families far beyond their wish. We are so grateful to Zack and the Stagecrafters community for their support!
This has been a very busy year at The Rainbow Connection as we continue to meet with wish children, plan their wishes and get to see their dreams come true! So far in 2021, 113 wishes have been granted and we are looking forward to granting another 40 wishes before the end of the year!
At The Rainbow Connection (TRC), our focus is on the wish children and their families, each child’s special wish and our ability to make them come true. Once in a lifetime wishes give children the ability to dream the impossible! Since we began this mission, no child in need of a wish has ever been turned away or made to wait.
On the left hand side of our Wish Wall, you can see pictures of all the pending wishes. Of the wishes that are pending, it is important to us that these children are not waiting on us. When they are ready for their wish, the Wish Department is ready to make it happen! Like Emily, age 17, who wishes to go on a tropical beach vacation with her family! She has decided not to book her wish yet due to COVID restrictions and has been very busy volunteering with TRC in the meantime. Zachary, age 5, is also waiting to decide on his wish until he is done with treatment. This gives him something to look forward and dream about during difficult days at the hospital.
In the center of the Wish Wall, you can see pictures of all the kiddos that have their wishes booked. Lawson, age 4, is going to Disney World right after Christmas! He is so excited to meet his friend Mickey Mouse. Carson, age 5 is also going to Disney World in May of 2022 and can’t wait to pose with superheroes at Universal Studios.
On the right hand side, you can see pictures of all the wish children who have received a wish since January of this year! Ashley was finally able to go to Disney World this past month. Side effects from her treatment made it difficult to walk and her muscles were weak. She eventually lost the ability to walk and put her wish on hold while she went through physical therapy. Four years later, she celebrated her wish with her family and was able to walk through every park at Disney World!
To see more wish stories and learn about TRC, follow us on Facebook @rainbowconnectionmichigan
The Rainbow Connection (TRC) has been granting wishes for Michigan children with life threatening medical conditions since 1985. Although a lot has changed over the 36 years since the organization began, the magic of a wish continues to provide hope and joy to wish children.
In addition to fulfilling a wish, TRC is proud to offer an Enhancement Program that provides families with support and fun activities as they continue to experience hardships. This includes tickets to a Detroit Tigers game, a Lion’s training camp, the Armada Fair, the Michigan State Fair, and more! These are all fun-filled free experiences for the entire family.
This summer, wish families were able to attend a Tigers game and a Lions Training Day! The Detroit Tigers donated a total of 450 tickets to TRC wish children and family members. The Detroit Lions Training Day let families see the Lions practice close up, participate in family friendly activities and root for their Detroit Lions!
Thanks to a partnership with Urban Air in Utica, every Tuesday, a wish family is able to receive exclusive access to the venue, t-shirts and food! Urban Air has trampolines, zip lines, bumper cars, rock climbing and more! This is the perfect opportunity for wish families to get out of the house, let off some steam, and PLAY!
Finally, we were able to provide both Michigan State Fair and Armada Fair tickets to our wish families. The Armada Fair hosted one wish family each day and provided free access, food and celebrity status! The Michigan State Fair provide 250 tickets for wish families which included a wrist band for full access to all of the carnival rides.
A huge thank you to all of the amazing organizations for providing opportunities for our wish families to spend quality time and create fun memories together. To learn more about The Rainbow Connection, follow us on Instagram @rainbowconnectionmichigan
Each year, current and former Rainbow Connection wish children can apply for a $1,000 scholarship for up to four years as they pursue a post high school education. With the support from the Four County Community Foundation, TRC was able to provide funding for one of our 2021 wish child applicants who lives in Oxford, Michigan. This scholarship not only decreases the financial burden of education for young adults and their families, but also supports our wish children as they look to serve the community in the future.
Gibson, from Oxford, MI, was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) during his first semester as a freshman in high school. He ended up graduating 6th in his class, completing the IB Diploma program, and he also earned the Seal of Biliteracy for Spanish. Gibson finished up his cancer treatment weeks before graduating high school and was able to go on his wish trip that summer. TRC sent him on his dream trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone! He went on private tours which helped him accomplish his biggest goal of the trip, seeing bears, bison, bighorn sheep and more! After that once in a lifetime experience, Gibson started his next journey at Kettering University where he is currently pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering.
TRC is incredibly grateful to the Four County Community Foundation for their support of our wish children like Gibson. We look forward to continuing our Scholarship Program this year and granting scholarships to more students ready to make their impact in their community.
The Rainbow Connection (TRC) is excited to announce that we have been awarded both the 2021 Platinum Seal of Transparency by GuideStar and, for the ninth consecutive year, the Four Star rating from Charity Navigator. This is the highest level of recognition offered by both GuideStar and Charity Navigator.
Receiving four out-of-four Stars for nine straight years is an honor only 4% of charities evaluated by Charity Navigator receive. Both of these ratings represent The Rainbow Connection’s commitment to fiscal responsibility in stewarding the donations provided to us in fulfilling our mission of providing wishes to Michigan children with life threatening illnesses. Of each dollar spent in 2020, over 86 cents was devoted to TRC’s mission.
The Rainbow Connection is referring to this year as the year of HOPE! With travel pretty much suspended last year due to the pandemic, TRC was limited to the types of wishes that could be granted. However, we are off to an amazing start in 2021, already granting wishes to the most requested place – Disney World! Thanks to safety protocols at Disney theme parks and their partners, TRC is once again giving hope and providing opportunities to create priceless memories to so many children in need.
Last month, Kim’Miyah, along with 16 other wish children, returned from her magical wish trip to Disney World! Each family stayed at Give Kids the World, a private village reserved for wish families that features a spa, Movie Theater, mini golf, carousel, ice cream shop, and more!
Kim’Miyah’s mom shares, “This trip meant so much to us, we had an amazing time. It was like a dream come true for Kim’Miyah, her sister and I. When Kim’Miyah saw Minnie in the parade, her face brightened up and they were blowing kisses to one another. It was such a priceless moment!”
The Rainbow Connection office is bustling with excitement because more than 30 wish families will be travelling to Disney over the next month! We want to take you behind the scenes to show you how our wish department prepares for these exciting moments.
First, TRC staff work closely with our Wish Families choosing dates, filling out required forms and securing travel arrangements.
Approx. 1-2 weeks prior to the wish departure date, we assemble and distribute the Wish Delivery Packages. The Wish Delivery Package includes a personalized wish binder. This contains all the specific details for the wish including reservations, activities, contact lists, itineraries and more! Once they’ve had a chance to review it, their Wish Coordinator schedules a call to walk them through the details, answering any questions along the way. It’s important that our families feel prepared and excited for their upcoming wish! Each package also contains travel details, a Rainbow Connection T-shirt for all family members, and fun surprises for the kids!
When a child’s wish is to visit the theme parks in Florida, they stay at a magical place called Give Kids the World. This is an incredible resort located in central Florida that partners with The Rainbow Connection to provide Wish Families weeklong magical wish trips to children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions. Tickets to all of the local theme parks including Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Sea World, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot Center and Legoland are provided. (www.gktw.org)
Each child’s wish is made unique with experience tailored to their heart’s desire. Perhapes they want a Mickey Mouse autograph, to meet their favorite princess or explore Harry Potter World. Whatever the wish, The Rainbow Connection makes sure that each child and their families have the opportunity to make lasting memories.
Make sure to follow us on Facebook @rainbowconnectionmichigan to see more wish stories and pictures over the next few months!
The Rainbow Connection (TRC) has been granting wishes for Michigan children with life threatening medical conditions since 1985. Although a lot has changed over the 35 years since the organization began, the magic of a wish continues to provide hope and joy to wish children.
Check out these 9 facts you might not know about TRC and the magic of making a dream come true.
It’s more than a wish. In addition to granting wishes, TRC provides an umbrella of support services for all families served. When a child becomes seriously ill, life is suddenly turned upside down for all family members. The Special Response and Enhancement Program provide families with support and fun activities as they continue to experience hardships. College Scholarships are available for wish kids who go to college too!
We grant wishes throughout the state of Michigan. TRC provides services to children throughout the 83 counties in the state of Michigan. In 2020, 80% of wishes were granted for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County children, but our Wish Staff travel to Traverse City, Marquette and wherever they are needed for our wish children.
The Rainbow Connection does not have a waiting list. Our Wish Coordinators work hard to maintain the quality of care and service while we maintain our no wait policy. When the child is ready for their wish, TRC is ready to make it happen.
Wish Kids receive surprise Happy Packs in the mail! Whether a child is going through a tough time in treatment, or just needs a pick me up, TRC sends a Happy Pack in the mail to cheer the child up. The surprise packages include coloring books, nail polish, card games and more!
The first wish was to meet Muhammed Ali on July 24th, 1985. 16 year old John Bowden wished to meet heavy weight champion Muhammed Ali. He came to visit John at Children’s Hospital in Detroit and while the visit was set up specifically to meet John, Ali stayed to visit many sick kids throughout the hospital. The gesture by Ali brought joy to John during a difficult time and the impact remains with his family to this day.
Wish Kids love to give back to other Wish Kids. Many of our wish kids raise funds to support other wish families. Ryan’s wish was granted in 2014 and he has been connected with TRC ever since. In 2016, Ryan started Leto Strong, an annual golf outing that has since raised over $25,000 to grant more wishes!
We grant all kinds of wishes! Since 1985, over 3,750 wishes have been granted to Michigan children. In 2019, we granted 68 trips to Disney World, 28 shopping sprees and 2 meet and greets with celebrities!
When a wish is received, the wish child and their family are joining The Rainbow Connection Family for life! With our Holiday Party, Summer Picnic and year round Enhancements, we love to visit with wish families throughout the year.
Hundreds of TRC supporters and volunteers make our mission possible. 2020 has been a tough year, especially for our families who are caring for a child with a life-threatening illness. When the pandemic hit, we knew that our families needed support now more than ever. Because of the incredible connections that we have made with new and old community partners, donors, supporters, and volunteers, we have truly been able to support our families in a big way. In 2020, 856 wish family members received support through our Special Response Program. In 2021, we anticipate granting more wishes than usual in the year ahead as we work hard to keep true to our promise: no child in need of a wish will ever be turned away or made to wait.
The Rainbow Connection’s (TRC) mission is built on the foundation of connections made with individuals and organizations that remind our wish families that they are not alone. TRC supports wish families before, during and after their wish, and this value has been of the utmost importance this year and throughout the holiday season.
Wish Families have had the opportunity to attend many drive by or virtual Santa events. The Clinton Township Parks and Rec hosted an experience where wish families walked through a holiday themed hallway leading to a video chat with Santa himself! The Pennanen Family Farm is hosting a letters to Santa experience. This will be a magical night where wish families can drive through the decorated farm and wave to Santa. They will be able to drop off a letter for Santa and even drive by the reindeer!
Maceri Produce, a Wholesale Produce Distributor, is donating 100 boxes full of produce, dairy and protein for our wish families. Detroit Food Rescue is another organization that is helping provide meals to wish families. For six weeks, they have coordinated with restaurant Saffron De Twah to provide amazing meals through their community kitchen.
Another highlight of December was the Annual TRC Wish Family Holiday Party! This year, the event was a drive-thru where families received a meal from Crispelli’s, cookies and milk, crafts and gifts! Maria’s mom shares the importance of this experience to her family,
“I just wanted to take a moment to tell you thank you for this afternoon. A year ago today, Maria and I were inpatient at Mott and she was very sick because of the chemo. A year ago today, most of Maria’s hair had fallen out and we made the decision to shave the remaining patches off since it was causing her to be very itchy and uncomfortable. I never thought a year later Maria and her siblings would be healthy, happy and enjoying Christmas activities such as the one held today. Thank you for bringing smiles to their faces and making my heart happy! Maria has been squeezing her teddy bear so tight since we left!”
Finally, many generous donors have chosen to adopt wish families for the holiday season. 100 of our wish families will be receiving gifts and toys this year! As we all navigate these uncertain times, just knowing that TRC has the resources through donors and community partners to assist wish families in need brings an overwhelming feeling of relief. We are tremendously grateful to those who have worked with us to provide new ways of supporting Michigan families.
Visit www.rainbowconnection.org/donate to support these programs for our wish families and help grant wishes to Michigan children with life threatening medical conditions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the health and welfare of so many people. At the same time, many of our wish children have been quarantined to protect their weakened immune systems. This in turn has forced parents to stay home with their children. Many of our families experienced work stoppages and layoffs compounding their already difficult situations.
The Kohler Cancer Fund stepped up to help Michigan families battling a life threatening illnesses. Since partnering with The Rainbow Connection last year, they provided assistance to seven of our wish families. Their program is based upon the specific needs of a particular family and are designed to offset the hidden costs for families as they battle cancer. Assistance may be used to cover the costs of temporary lodging while the child undergoes treatment, child care expenditures, transportation costs, lost wages and more. This Fund helped our families shore up their financial setbacks so they can focus on helping their child through their medical procedures and treatment all while trying to keep them safe from the virus.
Ingrid Todt, Wish Director at the Rainbow Connection, says “This assistance that you are providing t to these fragile families is such an incredible gift. Calling to make them aware of your commitment to them, and hearing their shouts of joy or tears of hope over the phone – you are making such a difference!”
Aiden’s family, who received assistance from the Kohler Cancer Fund says, “Our family thanks you from the bottom of our hearts for the generous donations. It lifts such a burden off our family’s shoulders.”
Thank you, Kohler Cancer Fund, for the amazing work that you do to help families in need!
Team Sunrise Real Estate Services sponsored and helped raise over $60,000 to celebrate The Rainbow Connection’s 35th Birthday! When our Birthday Party had to be cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions, Team Sunrise jumped in to host a raffle that honored 35 years of granting wishes to Michigan children with life-threatening illnesses. They also generously agreed to match donations towards the raffle – up to $7,500!
For the past two months, Team Sunrise, Rainbow Connection Volunteers, Staff and Board Members have been selling tickets to donors all over the state of Michigan. On Friday, September 11th, the winners were announced at the TRC Office. Congratulations to all six winners!
$50 Raffle Prize
$20 Raffle Prize
In addition to the raffle, Team Sunrise has helped TRC in numerous other ways. They have sponsored wishes and even make a donation for each house sold at their agency – Team Sunrise Real Estate Services! Most recently, they helped sponsor Addison’s wish to go to Disney World. At just 12 years old, Addison was diagnosed with an adult form of ovarian cancer. A very rare case, Addison and her family sought treatment at the University of Michigan Hospital. Addison went through surgeries and a variety of chemo treatments while battling the cancer. Addison’s home town of Ubly, Michigan rallied around her and her family. For one week Addison and her family were able to spend quality time with one another to create long lasting memories.
Thank you Team Sunrise for your continued dedication to our wish children and your commitment to sharing our mission throughout the state of Michigan!